Jun 28, 2015

Travel Diaries: Because Diu Was Long Due

'Nothing spoils you like good travel'. I texted this message to a friend while conversing with her about how difficult it is to get on with your 'routine' life just after you are back from a memorable vacation. She was quick to understand my sentiments (she had been a long 'city' vacation herself) and both of us realized that a couple of weeks and a dozen Instagram pictures may never suffice for the incredible memories one gathers while traveling, living and loving.

Diu happened by sudden desire, spontaneity and an early morning decision to just go there. It is unbelievable how you plan to go somewhere forever but never really make it. I think it's the calling that decides where and when you will end up. I had always been intrigued by the tiny UT of Daman and Diu and being the only Indian alive to have NOT been to Goa, I was really keen to explore a place that is referred by many as Goa without its crowd and commercialization.

Some early research busted three of my initial myths. One - Daman and Diu were far apart, some 640 kms away from each other by road. So, it is best suited to plan a trip to the prettier, cleaner and calmer Diu rather than Daman. 

Two, Diu is not a very frequented travel destination (one of the reasons for my wish to go there) and hence there is very little or rather negligible travel information and reviews available on the Internet. The ones that are available are from commercial websites that use so many adjectives that it becomes difficult to distinguish Daryaganj from Diu. 

Three, Diu is not Goa. I don't know (yet) what Goa is like. But Diu is definitely not Goa. It is something else. Diu is Diu. One of its kind.

Early morning jog at the Nagoa beach.

How to reach Diu? 

Diu is not the easiest travel destination if you are planning to go there from Delhi. The best and quickest bet is to plan an air travel via Mumbai well in advance that will cost you around 8,000 INR for the round trip. Remember that there is only a single flight from Mumbai to Diu every day and if you book your flights wisely, the overall journey from Delhi to Diu will not take more than 6 hours.

Alternatively, if you are not short on time, you can reach Diu from Delhi by aggregating two train trips - first and the longer one that takes you from Delhi to Ahmedabad (14 hours overnight journey) and the second train journey that is shorter but more tiring - from Ahmedabad to Veraval, the nearest rail head from Diu (90 Kms away). The journey from Ahmedabad to Veraval takes approximately 10 hours. From Veraval, you will have to book a taxi to Diu, which will take another couple of hours. So, in total you will take at least 36 hour to reach Diu from Delhi via two trains and a taxi journey. 

The choice is yours. If you want to soak in the Gujarat countryside and relish a train ride, and most importantly, are not short on time, the train journey option is fun and fulfilling. And if you are the high flying kind, who thinks airports are more poetic than railway stations, go for the Via Mumbai flying option. The quiet, little Diu airport takes you by surprise for its, hold your breath, diminutiveness.

Diu from 16000 ft above the ground

Where to Stay in Diu?

Diu does not have many fancy places to stay or let's say it will not offer you any luxury that you normally associate with travel destinations these days. Trust only the top 10 hotels listed on popular travel websites and water down your expectations before you land in Diu. Hotel Palms Resort (my hideout in Diu), Hoka, Radhika Beach Resort and Azzaro are some of the good places to stay in Diu.

The best part about staying in Hotel Palms is the almost-private beach that you get as a bonus. The resort is away from the hustle bustle of the popular Nagoa beach and is situated right in front of the secluded and picturesque Kodidhar beach. 

So, set out for a morning walk on the long and remarkably clean beaches, go out for a stroll in the evening, have a bottle of beer or two (dispose the empty bottle responsibly!), read a book by the seaside or do nothing. Simply sit and feel amazed at the sheer vastness of the Arabian Sea.

Sea waves at the Kodidhar beach. Right in front of Hotel Palms

Sunrise at the Kodidhar beach

What to Do in Diu?

You can choose to do nothing in Diu. And yet, never get bored. The island has an innate tranquilizing and calming quality that lets you unwind and relax. 

But, there are some magical places in and around the city that present a heady blend of  Diu's historic connection with the Portuguese and its mesmerizing geographical location at the edge of the Arabian sea. Hire a cycle, a bike (at 300 INR per day approx) or a car (at 1500 INR per day) and zip through the well-built roads that connect all the major tourist attractions. Sample these:

1. The stunning Diu fort. Built by the Portuguese. Frequented by Gujjus.

A part of the Diu Fort

Pani Ka Kotha right in the middle of the sea. As seen from the Diu Fort

Tourists at Diu Fort

2. The most breathtaking location in all of Diu - The INS Khukri Memorial

View from the INS Khukri Memorial

The Open Air Theatre at the INS Khukri Memorial

3. The intriguing Naida Caves

Not sure what/who built the Naida Caves. It's either the nature or the Portuguese

4. The historic St. Paul's church

St Paul's Church is one of the few functional Portuguese churches in Diu

St. Paul's Church - Front View

5. The abandoned church in Fudam

The mostly abandoned church in Fudam, Diu

6. The Gangeshwar Mahadev Temple - Where the sea pays obedience to Lord Shiva

The unique Gangeshwar Temple with five Shiva Lingas.
The sea waves come running in every now and then.

7. The sunrise and sunset at Nagoa beach

Sunset at Nagoa beach

The morning Sun's abandoned chariot. As found near the Nagoa beach

Mornings be like.

Mornings be like.

Early morning sight at the Nagoa beach

8. St. Thomas Church and Museum

Portuguese statues and artifacts at the St. Thomas church

Where to eat in Diu?

Getting good food in Diu is an issue. Most restaurants serve Punjabi and Chinese cuisine that does not taste like Punjabi and Chinese food! Hoka has a nice little cafe that serves good continental food. The only restaurant that serves good, authentic Gujarati in whole of Diu is Bamaniya restaurant, a nondescript gem on the main highway that connects Nagoa beach and the airport to the Diu city.

First encounter with white jaggery or 'Gudd' 

The sumptuous Bajra Na Rotla and Baigan Bharta. With some chilli fry and Gudd. 

I believe when you find it difficult to express through fluidity of words, you opt for frozen pictures. And that's why I have put up more pictures than words to make a case for Diu. :)

This small and quiet island is sans all the frills attached to a beach vacation these days. Truly, ilha de calma that the Diu tourism claims it to be. Go, find peace, find love or simply find yourself in Diu. 

And here is the customary 'I Love Diu' picture. 

I love Diu Vs. I loved you

P.S: Be careful while you say 'I love Diu' to your girl. She might construe it as 'I loved you'. And that will be the end of the game.

I traveled to Diu in June when the temperature was pretty high. Best time to travel to Diu is August-March. Or simply, whenever you feel like.

All the pictures in the post are clicked by the blogger. Don't reproduce/reuse without permission. For more pictures from Diu and other places, follow the blogger at Instagram - @ashishanant 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this post. A relaxed and very less populated Portuguese colony, Diu is famous for its historic forts, churches and Hindu Temples and sea food. Garnished with beautiful and secluded beaches, Diu also offers a variety of water sports to the adventurers. Check out best 3 star hotels in Diu also.